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Visiting the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India

Golden Temple Armistar India
Golden Temple Amritsar India

Visiting the Golden Temple in Amritsar  literally took my breath away. I know that’s a cliche, but in this case it is true. The Golden Temple had me gasping in two ways.

First, the glowing golden structure in the northern part of India called Punjab where the majority of the population is Sikh is absolutely stunning, especially when you see it and its reflections in the early morning light. Surrounded by white marble and a reflecting pond it is a “Wow.”

Golden Temple Amritsar India
Golden Temple Amritsar India

It’s also cold. It only took about 20 minutes for my Raynauds to kick in, leaving me gasping. Typically when you visit Eastern religion temples, you take your shoes off to enter the temple grounds. In this case, we had to walk through a small bathing pond and then walk on that gorgeous marble.

Since the temperature was about 30- 40 degrees it was cold. I have Raynaud’s (this syndrome causes  your fingers and toes  to feel numb and painful in response to cold temperatures) and it flared  cutting my time to shoot photos at the water’s edge short where I had to stand on the freezing marble. I went off to find a spot with a warm floor. That I did.

But first let me tell you about the temple. The Golden Temple in Amritsar is the Sikh’s most holy place. It’s huge, actually a city within a city. Built on a spiritual site known for attracting folks to mediate, it was built in the late 1500s, drawing on both Hindu and Muslin artistic styles. It truly rivals the Taj Mahal as a “sight to see” when visiting India.

People come all day to pray and bath in the lake which is seen as a symbolic cleansing  of the soul. They can enjoy a meal, and walk around the special pond known as the “pool of ambrosial nectar” and visit the actual temple within the grounds.

Golden Temple Amritsar India
Golden Temple Amritsar India
Cleansing the Soul at Golden Temple
Cleansing the Soul at Golden Temple

The Sikhs are fascinating people. The word Sikh means disciple or learner. The religion was founded in the 15th century by Guru Nanak Dev Ji and is distinct from Islam and Hinduism. They believe in three basic principles: meditating (praying) in the name of God, earning a living by honest means and sharing the fruits of one’s labor with others.

Sikhism rejects caste and caste systems and emphasizes service to people.

Sikh's at the Golden Temple
Sikh’s at the Golden Temple
Sikh's at the Golden Temple
Sikh’s at the Golden Temple

I’ll write more about the Sikhs when I do a post on turbans. You’ll see why then.

So, back to the issue of the cold feet. Since Raynaud’s is serious and challenging I knew I had to get someplace to warm up. I found Karl, our Tour Leader, and explained the situation. He took me to the baking area where they were making chapati (bread) for the 10,000 people who eat in the free kitchen every day. The floor was deliciously toasty.

My feet warmed up in no time and the tingling in my fingers went away. While waiting for this to happen I had a great time capturing the chapati making with my camera.

A Sikh making Chipati
A Sikh making Chapati
A Sikh making Chapati
A Sikh making Chapati
A Sikh making Chapati
A Sikh making Chapati
A Sikh making Chapati
A Sikh making Chapati
A Sikh making Chapati
A Sikh making Chapati
Finishing the Chapati
Finishing the Chapati

Remember the part about the Sikhs believing in volunteering and feeding people. They operate an absolutely huge kitchen called Guru ka Langar at the Golden Temple. After  I enjoyed watching the Sikhs making the chapati  I wandered around to see the dining room that holds 3,000 people at a time, the massive dishwashing area and people prepping food.

Guru ka Langar  is a symbol of the caste-free egalitarian society that the Sikh gurus hope to create. Everyone sits on the floor and gets the same meal.

Prepping food
Prepping food
Huge containers of Plates for serving people at the free kitchen
Huge containers of Plates for serving people at the free kitchen
The dining room
The dining room
The dining room
The dining room
In the Free Kitchen
In the Free Kitchen
Collecting dishes to be washed
Collecting dishes to be washed

While everything was very assembly line oriented, the people were friendly. Multiple people encourage me to get in line to be fed. I even had one guy ask with hand signals if I wanted to join the dishwashing line.  It looked like they were having fun.   If I had had time, I would have. Would have felt great to join the happy crowd and to contribute to the effort.

Washing Dishes
Washing Dishes

Eventually I ventured outside to take  pictures of the pilgrims visiting the Golden Temple.  I found people  happy to stop a minute to pose and occasionally someone asked me to pose for a Selfie.

At the Golden Temple
At the Golden Temple
At the Golden Temple
At the Golden Temple
Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.

Comments

3 Comments
  1. posted by
    Mark Holzbach
    May 15, 2017 Reply

    What great photos and blog post! Thanks for sharing as always Susan!! Dana and I loved visiting there too. We walked to Amritsar (and back) across the Pakistani border – if you’d like to hear our story any time, please just let us know!

    • posted by
      Susan J. Smith
      May 15, 2017 Reply

      Thanks Mark. I’m glad you enjoyed this post. I’d love to hear your story about being at Amritsar and walking across the Pakistani boarder.

  2. posted by
    Hola Mohalla-a Sikh Military Festival | DesignDestinations
    Jul 31, 2017 Reply

    […] hill in the middle of the town. Since we visited several other temples on the trip including the Golden Temple in Amritsar, I didn’t spend my time at this one. It was clear I was in a minority. All these people were […]

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